MVLA approves stadium lights use policies

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District unanimously approved stadium lights use policies at a meeting last week, paving the way to illuminate the stadiums at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools.

The decision was years in the making. Installing stadium lights has long been a divisive issue, with neighbors raising concerns about noise, increased traffic and other environmental impacts.

However, the June 10 meeting was subdued. Only a few local residents spoke, compared with the hundreds that showed up for an initial public discussion last August.

Board president Phil Faillace said he knew getting stadium lights would be a long process, but it enabled the school district to work with neighbors and hear their concerns.

“We were able to listen to a lot of opinions, give everybody a chance to have a voice and to build the spirit of community that I think makes Mountain View and Los Altos a great place to live in and to send kids to school,” he said.

Along with erecting stadium lights, the district plans to install new public address systems, aimed at stopping noise from spilling into the surrounding neighborhoods.

In addition to approving the use policies, the board also unanimously decided to complete an environmental impact report (EIR) at both schools. The reports will determine the effect that the stadium lights and sound systems will have on issues including traffic and noise.

An EIR is an extensive review that will cost the district approximately $110,000 per school and take an estimated 38 weeks. The alternative was to complete an initial study/mitigated negative declaration, which would run close to $75,000 per school and take roughly 22 weeks.

According to Superintendent Jeff Harding, because an EIR is more in-depth, it provides a stronger estimate of a project’s impact and offers better protection in the event of a legal challenge.

“We’ve discussed this with legal counsel and the recommendation is to go ahead with the full EIR and to begin the process as soon as possible,” Harding told board trustees.

At last week’s meeting, the board also approved a proposal to create the design for the outdoor sound systems. The design will cost $8,000 per high school, for a total of $16,000.

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